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Pediatrics. 1995 Aug;96(2 Pt 1):235-8.

A comparison of cathartics in pediatric ingestions.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA.



To compare the mean time to first stool, number of stools, and side effects of three commonly used cathartics in pediatric ingestions.


This prospective clinical trial was a randomized, double-blinded comparison of sorbitol, magnesium citrate, magnesium sulfate, and water, administered with activated charcoal in the treatment of pediatric patients 1 to 5 years of age with acute ingestions. Outcome parameters were mean time to first stool, mean number of stools during 24 hours, and side effects.


One hundred sixteen patients completed the study. Significant differences in mean time to the first stool were detected among cathartic agents (F = 9.29), with sorbitol-treated patients having a shortest mean time to the first stool (mean, 8.48 hours). Sorbitol produced a significantly higher number of stools (mean, 2.79) in the 24-hour follow-up period than other cathartics (F = 3.49). The most common side effect of cathartic administration was emesis, which occurred more commonly in sorbitol-treated patients.


Sorbitol, when administered with activated charcoal in the treatment of children with acute ingestions, produced a shorter time to first stool and more stools than magnesium citrate, magnesium sulfate, or water.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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